Navy ham­mers Air Force, 33-11

NAVY 33, AIR FORCE 11

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY GENEWANG gene.wang@wash­post.com

The Mid­ship­men win the first leg of Com­man­der-in-Chief’s com­pe­ti­tion as Keenan Reynolds rushes for 183 yards in rout of Fal­cons.

Navy de­fen­sive end Will An­thony was re­flect­ing on last year’s loss to Air Force this past week when he stepped away to col­lect his thoughts, not want­ing to pro­vide bul­letin board ma­te­rial head­ing into the re­match.

“I have to watch my words,” he said.

The se­nior’s play in­stead spoke vol­umes dur­ing a re­demp­tive 3311 vic­tory on a cold and rainy Satur­day af­ter­noon at Navy-Marine Corps Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in which an inspired de­fense col­lected four turnovers and didn’t al­low a point un­til late in the third quar­ter.

Mean­while, quar­ter­back Keenan Reynolds, who hap­pens to be An­thony’s room­mate, di­rected six scor­ing drives to push the Mid­ship­men to their eighth win in a row dat­ing from last sea­son and a 4-0 record for the first time since 2004.

Navy won the first leg of the com­pe­ti­tion for the Com­man­derin-Chief’s Tro­phy sig­ni­fy­ing ser­vice academy football supremacy. The win­ner of the Navy-Air Force game has won the tro­phy in each of the last 18 years, with Army not hav­ing won it since 1996. The Mid­ship­men can re­claim the CIC hard­ware af­ter a one-year ab­sence by beat­ing Army on Dec. 12 in Philadelphia.

An­thony forced a pair of fum­bles and Reynolds im­proved to 6-1 in ser­vice academy games by rush­ing for 183 yards on 24 car­ries in front of an an­nounced crowd of 32,705. The Mid­ship­men built a three-touch­down cush­ion by half­time and all but se­cured the out­come with Austin Grebe’s 37-yard field goal for a 30-11 ad­van­tage with eight min­utes left.

“Wil­liam An­thony epit­o­mizes who we want to be as a football pro­gram,” Navy Coach Ken Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “If we could go find some­body in the United States of Amer­ica, we’re look­ing for Wil­liam An­thony. He’s a good stu­dent, the most hum­ble kid. When you see this kid, he’s the nicest kid, but he’s tough as nails. He’s a war­rior. He rep­re­sents our school and our coun­try well.”

It was Navy’s largest mar­gin of vic­tory in the se­ries since 1978, with its first points com­ing af­ter a de­fen­sive stand that forced Air Force (2-2) into three plays and a punt. Full­back Chris Swain scored the first of his two touch­downs on a two-yard run 4 min­utes 55 sec­onds into the first quar­ter to end the open­ing drive in which Reynolds (300 to­tal yards) broke loose for a 54 yards on the first snap.

The first turnover came when Air Force run­ning back Ja­cobi Owens fum­bled a high pitch from quar­ter­back Kar­son Roberts. Se­nior safety Kwanzel Ber­trand, who was carted off the field in the fourth quar­ter with an an­kle in­jury, re­cov­ered at the Navy 36, and the Mid­ship­men marched into Fal­cons ter­ri­tory cour­tesy of a 26yard pass from Reynolds to slot back DeBran­don San­ders on third and nine.

On the sec­ond snap of the sec­ond quar­ter, Reynolds de­liv­ered a 27-yard pass to wide re­ceiver Thomas Wil­son for a touch­down. One play ear­lier, Reynolds also threw to Wil­son, but an Air Force de­fender knocked the ball away as the se­nior reached to make the catch while fall­ing back­ward into the end zone.

“This week has been a very in­tense week,” said Reynolds, who played with a hurt knee in last year’s 30-21 loss in Colorado Springs. “It’s an awe­some feel­ing to win at home, but our motto is 1-0, so we just try to ap­proach the game just like another other game. There’s a lot of pageantry that sur­rounds the game, but at theendof theday it’s still football.”

An­thony forced another fum­ble when he got into the back­field to foil an ex­change be­tween Roberts and full­back D. J. John­son. Ber­trand fell on the loose ball, and the Mid­ship men took over at their 16-yard line with 9:34 left in the sec­ond quar­ter. But Navy couldn’t con­vert that turnover or Bren­don Cle­ments’s in­ter­cep­tion on the Fal­cons’ en­su­ing se­ries into points.

That changed, though, fol­low­ing a fum­ble re­cov­ery by Navy line­backer D. J. Pal­more at the Mid­ship­men 32-yard line. It was the fourth con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sion in which Air Force com­mit­ted a turnover, all in Navy ter­ri­tory, and this time the Mid­ship­men re­sponded with De­mond Brown’s one-yard touch­down run on a pitch to the right side for a 21-0 lead with 2:58 to play un­til the break.

“We let ev­ery­one on the team down last year,” Navy se­nior nose guard and co-cap­tain Bernie Sarra said. “It just felt good to get back out there to­day, have another shot. We just lined up, took it to them. Thank­fully we came out with a ‘W.’ ”

JONATHAN NEW­TON/THE WASHINGTON POST

Af­ter a vic­tory over Air Force, Navy se­nior quar­ter­back Keenan Reynolds (19) is 6-1 against ser­vice academy teams in his ca­reer.

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